Sanctuary cities are major cities in the United States that follow certain procedures that shelter illegal immigrants. These cities have a policy that refuse to cooperate completely with federal detention requests. The term “sanctuary cities” comes from the movement that took place in the 1980s where the United States offered protection to undocumented refugees fleeing from the Central American wars. San Francisco later passed the “City of Refuge” resolution in 1985. This controversy has been brought up more in the past two years than it has in the past twenty years.
Sanctuary cities such as Seattle, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are on the verge of their losing federal funding. ProCon.org broke down all the pros and cons that come with sanctuary cities. These cities tend to influence a better relationship between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement. The Tenth Amendment also protects these sanctuary policies. Many important programs won’t be able to provide as much if they lose their federal funding. The main argument against these cities is that they’re defying federal law, so they shouldn’t be receiving anymore federal funds. Many also argue that sanctuary policies can create a more dangerous environment for US citizens currently living in those cities. Having sanctuary policies can also prevent local police officers from doing their jobs.
Sanctuary cities have become a safe haven for undocumented immigrants over the past twenty years. These undocumented immigrants will have better relationships with law enforcement because of sanctuary policies. In Chicago, city employees aren’t suppose to share residents’ immigration status. In his article, Insecure Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement, Nik Theodore shared his results when we he surveyed Latinos of their likelihood to report a crime where they were the victim. “Forty four percent of Latinos surveyed reported that they are less likely to contact police officers if they had been the victim” (Theodore 10). This shows us that even when Latinos are the victims of a crime they’re still afraid to contact law enforcement due to their immigration status. The more undocumented immigrants hear about others being deported because of their involvement in a crime, the less likely they’ll report anything to law enforcement. This leads to criminals having their targets on immigrants because of their likelihood to actually report the crime to their local police department. Having sanctuary policies thus improves the trust between undocumented immigrants and police officers because they won’t be as hesitant to report a crime to law enforcement.
The U.S. Constitution notes that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (US Const. amend. X). The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) stated that “The federal government can’t require local police or jails to help with immigration enforcement or comply with immigration detainers” (ILRC 3) When a police officer is holding an undocumented immigrant, ICE will send that police officer a detainer request. This request is asking for the officer to hold that immigrant for an extra 48 hours, so they can start the deportation process. However, police officers have the right to deny those request. Cities shouldn’t be losing federal funding if they aren’t doing anything illegal, even the constitution states that state governments are prohibited from enforcing federal law.
If sanctuary cities do lose federal funding it’ll impact the lives of everyone, not just the immigrants. Ray Sanchez broke down everything sanctuary cities will lose if they lose their federal funding. In his article, What Sanctuary Cities Stand to Lose If Feds Have Their Way, he proves that a city like Seattle will be massively affected. He proves that Seattle receives $55 million from federal funding to operate their expenses. “Without this funding, many programs will be diminished, less effective, or cease functioning entirely” (Sanchez). This quote by Ray Sanchez proves that programs funded by the government won’t be able to provide as much they do right now for both undocumented immigrants and citizens. Seattle spends over $100 million for long term investments. The Human Services Department receives up to $42 million. $15 million is given to the Homeless Strategy and Investment Division which provides shelter, outreach, and health care for the homeless. Elderly people with disabilities receive $11 million for based care. The Police Department received over $3 million as of 2017. Capital funds such as maintenance, bridge replacements and path improvements equate to $63 million. Seattle spends at a minimum of $275 million to run their city. Cities like these shouldn’t be losing federal funding, instead they should be receiving more because programs provide so much for these heavily populated places.
Sanctuary cities should be assisting the national government and shouldn’t be “welcoming” illegal immigration. U.S. Code § 1373 states that “Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service” (Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part IX). This means that a state government can’t restrict any other official from communicating with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Government officials can’t be prohibited from sending or receiving information on immigration status and citizenship. Every local government should always have the right to acquire that information. Cities not enforcing federal immigration laws can lead to many arguments regarding immigration. Citizens argue for a lack of jobs and of a higher crime rate. The huge debate of immigration will always be controversial, sanctuary cities aren’t breaking any rules by not supporting what their nation thinks is best.
President Trump along with others believe that sanctuary policies tend to create a more dangerous environment for U.S. citizens. In her article, Ignoring Detainers and Endangering Communities, Jessica Vaughn shows how sanctuary cities release thousands of criminals back into U.S. cities. She proves that from January 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014, 8,811 detainers were refused by local law enforcement. In the summer of 2015 that number rose to over 17,000. “Most offenders released had prior arrests; one- fourth were already felons” (Vaughn). Jessica Vaughn emphasized this throughout her article because she is making others aware that even though law enforcement know that these people are criminals they still choose to deny detainer requests. She mentions that 1,900 released offenders were later arrested around 4,300 times. These statistics show us that sanctuary cities tend to deny numerous amount of detainers but are evidently making their cities more dangerous. Just because police officers have the right to deny detainer requests from ICE, doesn’t mean they should always do it especially when they know that person is a felon.
Local police officers are always in a lose- lose situation when they have to deal with an undocumented immigrant. Dara Lind explains how police officers are being prevented from doing their jobs in her article, Sanctuary Cities, Explained. A police officer can deny a detainer request and release an undocumented immigrant when they’re assigned to. Criminal activity will start to rise because other criminals will start to target undocumented immigrants. Criminals will target them because they understand that undocumented immigrants will be afraid to call law enforcement because of their fear of being deported. The police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Charlie Beck, spoke about how he needs the trust of the undocumented immigrants living there. ” Over 500,000 Angelenos, people who live in Los Angeles, are undocumented immigrants. I need their cooperation. I need them to work with their local police stations. I need them to be witnesses to violent crime” (Beck). Charlie Beck is emphasizing that the LAPD needs the trust of undocumented immigrants so that everyone can be safe. On the other hand, if a police officer chooses to honor a detainer many people will start to despise this officer. Many people will view him as the police officer that is releasing criminals back into their cities rather than deporting those undocumented immigrants. Having to choose to a honor detainer request can be extremely difficult for these police officers. Police officers should never be in a lose- lose situation and shouldn’t be afraid to do what’s right.
President Trump has tried to defund these sanctuary cities but hasn’t been too successful with it. He’s unable to defund them because the constitution only allows Congress to deny funds for noncompliance. Governors of sanctuary cities have voiced their opinions on their refusal to change their sanctuary policies.
This controversial issue has two fairly equally arguable sides. Sanctuary cities allow for undocumented immigrants to have a better relationship with local police officers. These cities aren’t force to change anything because they’re protected by the tenth amendment. Everyone living in sanctuary cities benefit from the special programs that are funded by the government. The other side to this debate is that the nation is trying to enforce immigration law while sanctuary cities are merely doing the opposite. With police officers having the right to deny detainers this leads to more criminals in their cities. When police officers choose to honor a detainer they’re also have to lose their trust with the immigrant community. These decisions can hinder local police officers from doing their job.
In my opinion sanctuary cities shouldn’t lose federal funding because they’re protected by an actual amendment. I understand that immigration is a national issue but these cities aren’t obligated to do what the country thinks is best. The main conclusion that I drew is that these cities do so much for everyone. The pros just outweigh the cons for this controversial issue. Cities need federal funds to continue to run properly as their programs are helping both the citizens and undocumented immigrants. Cities need sanctuary policies because the people currently living there shouldn’t be afraid to be in contact with police officers, especially when they just witnessed a crime.